Even the common cold is in decline as effective hand hygiene brings huge benefits
A huge toll has been taken by the current coronavirus pandemic: but behavioural changes have brought huge benefits beyond the COVID focus – not least with regard to a very significant reduction in other infectious diseases, according to a recent report on The Guardian website.
Described as a pandemic “silver lining”, author Linda Geddes had drawn attention to the significant fall in illnesses from the common cold, flu and chicken pox amongst many others. All this is despite the fact that children have recently returned to school, a situation which normally results in much greater increases in illnesses levels than seem to have occurred now.
The common cold for example, totalled 1.5 cases for every 100,000 people during the week ending on the 6th October according to GP surveillance data for England, “compared to 92.5 cases reported during the same week last year” wrote Geddes. The fall in influenza shows almost as remarkable a fall.
Since the end of March, says a report by the Royal College of General Practitioners’ research and surveillance centre, norovirus, tonsillitis, impetigo and others are all “well below” the five year average.
Even greater hand washing benefits ahead
The article states that
“Most schools are insisting on regular hand washing, and are encouraging children to rub soap into their hands for 20 seconds or more, before rinsing it off.”
More awareness of the need for effective hand washing could result in considerable benefits for some time to come says the article, which quotes a professor of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, Professor Azeem Majeed who is also a practising GP.
‘“I think it’s quite possible that if these measures are maintained longer term, we will see a lasting impact on the rates of any illness that spreads from child to child,” said Majeed. “It just depends on how long that behaviour change is maintained for.”’
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